Gateway: Living

PHS latest drama production part of healing process in wake of students’ deaths

From left, junior Madison Lefever, playing Mrs. Bennett, and seniors Athena Brown as Mr. Bennett and Anna Terrano as Elizabeth Bennett, engage in a very serious discussion.
From left, junior Madison Lefever, playing Mrs. Bennett, and seniors Athena Brown as Mr. Bennett and Anna Terrano as Elizabeth Bennett, engage in a very serious discussion. Special to the Gateway

“Pride and Prejudice,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel by the same title, is a romantic comedy set in England during the early 1800s when the Industrial Revolution was just beginning, social classes were staunchly defined, and marriage was arranged for economic gain rather than for love.

The Peninsula High School Theatre will present it at the Milton S. Boyd Performing Arts Center beginning Dec. 1.

“I play the role of Catherine Bennett,” said senior Megan Burr. “It has taught me many valuable lessons including to believe in myself and take risks on and off stage. This production is more than a high school play. It will raise funds for the Memorial Scholarship of students Kyle Stillion and James Oatridge, who will be in our hearts forever.”

For classmate Marleyna Beene, who is Jane Bennett, “‘Pride & Prejudice’ is unlike any play we’ve done before. It’s required hard work physically and emotionally to develop our characters as well as ourselves as actors. Our drive comes from wanting to honor the Peninsula family that we lost this fall. We will put on a great show for James and Kyle and contribute to their memorial scholarship. The idea of family is the driving force of the play. It emphasizes the importance of relationships for the cast and has brought us together after the tragedies we faced.

“We’ve developed a sense of community and we hope to portray it through our show.”

“From playing Mary Bennett, I have learned how to understand character and develop traits large and small,” said senior Taylor Cooper. “I have also learned the importance of putting passion into every line and movement, because true acting comes from the heart.”

“People should see this show because it will be a fun and entertaining show full of humor, love, hate and gossip,” declared junior Olivia Webb, playing Charlotte Lucas and serving as costume designer. ”I’ve learned the importance of technical roles, even more than I already knew.”

“The play taught me to look carefully at how I view others and to not be too hasty to form opinions, good or bad,” opined senior Samantha Moore, who plays Mrs. Bingley and is also the play’s hair & makeup technician. “People should come see this play for its humor in great one-liners and physical characterization by the actors.”

“During this play, I’ve learned to be more self-directed and how to take ownership for what I do,” said sophomore Hannah Pierce, who plays Lydia Bennett and is also assistant lighting designer. “Come see this show because it is a timeless comedy and will put you in a good mood no matter what.”

“As we reflect on what’s happened the past two months, our community has suffered,” noted stage manager Sarah Nicholson, a senior. “James and Kyle were loved members of our school and community, and we hope to honor them through our performance, which we hope will take you away from the real world into the lives and loves of the Bennett family.”

“I’ve learned that taking risks can pay off,” added Burr. “Come see this show. It’s funny because the characters will remind you of your own family.”

Five daughters of the Bennett family must be married off! Whatever is Mama Bennett to do? Marrying off her daughters and “keeping up with the Jones’” is a full-ime job for this mom whose nerves often get the best of her! Daughter Lydia is an intolerable flirt, while daughter Jane falls deeply in love with the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and it looks like romance might be possible between daughter Elizabeth and the even wealthier Mr. Darcy. But can attraction between them triumph over the pride of one and the prejudice of the other? This adaptation contains all the famous scenes and lines from the novel.

Senior Alex Beloate who is Mr. Bingley notes, “Even though kids in this cast and crew are all different, we work hard and together. We’re a team and need each other to be our best. I feel comfortable on the athletic field, but acting on stage is a stretch for me. After everything this fall, I learned that life truly is short, so why not go all in ... even if it requires a British accent! I’m thankful for the opportunity to push myself beyond what feels comfortable, to learn new things, and to honor those we’ve lost.”

For Nicholson, “being the stage manager of such a complex play has taught me how to incorporate characterization, time period, gender roles and love triangles all into one beautiful production. Come see this show! You’ll fall in love with the characters and their individual journeys.”

“We have many talented young people expressing themselves through this show, and the community should be here to see it!” insists Mr. Collins, played by senior Klay Dutton.

“Pride and Prejudice” takes the stage at 7 p.m. Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9. Tickets are $12. Matinee performances Dec. 2 and 9 at 2 p.m. are $14 and will include High Tea during intermission. General seating tickets are available online at phs.psd.401.net.

Limited reserved tickets are available for sale during box office hours, Wednesday through Friday from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, except during Thanksgiving Holiday Break. Tickets are also available at the door two hours prior to each show.

“This has been a tough fall for the Peninsula Seahawk Community,” said PHS drama instructor Kara Beloate. “This is why we need the arts. The arts community brings comfort and a place of refuge that can’t be measured by the quality of a show or the number of tickets sold. Through the arts we find a place where things make sense, even if the rest of the world doesn’t. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a student-run production truly exemplifying the fierce heart of our students and the old adage ‘the show must go on.’”

We’ll be there opening night!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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